BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Whiteley and TV3 Network Services Ltd - 2004-121

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Brett Whiteley
3 News

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
3 News – item about big budget films to be made in New Zealand – movie clip shown included a shot of a woman falling off her chair and her dress flying up – allegedly offensive and contrary to interests of child viewers

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – context – inexplicit – not upheld

Standard 9 (children’s interests) – not unsuitable for children in context – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1] An item about the number of big budget films to be made in New Zealand featured on 3 News at approximately 6.20pm on 7 June 2004. The item included interviews with two leading actors who said they were looking forward to working in New Zealand, one of whom was Jack Black. A clip from the romantic comedy movie Shallow Hal, featuring Jack Black, showed actress Gwyneth Paltrow falling backwards off a chair and her dress flying up.


[2] Mr Whiteley alleged that the “exposure of a naked woman” breached Standard 1 (good taste and decency) given that it was broadcast at approximately 6.20pm, and the target audience would have included children. Further, no warning regarding the nudity was given, nor was any effort made “to maintain decency.” Mr Whiteley added that 3 News is not classified as an “adults only”, programme and claimed that the footage “was shown in slow motion”.

[3] Mr Whiteley contended that the footage of the “nude woman” was “totally unnecessary”, as the item was about Jack Black and clips from his other films, which did not contain nudity, could have been used in the item.

[4] In regard to Standard 7, Mr Whiteley stated that there was no warning provided “that content would offend or disturb.” He noted that such warnings were often given before news items containing “offensive or disturbing material” are broadcast, and he “would have expected the exposure of a woman to have a warning prior to its being shown”.

[5] Mr Whiteley argued that broadcasting standards relating to children’s interests (Standard 9) were breached as it was “highly likely” that children would have been watching the broadcast at “6.20pm on Queen’s Birthday weekend”. He referred to Guideline 9e and contended that the nudity was “totally irrelevant” to the story. He concluded that the clip was shown “only to titillate and not for any newsworthy motive”.


[6] TV3 considered the complaint under Standards 1, 7 and 9 of the Free-to-Air Code of Broadcasting Practice as nominated by the complainant. They provide:

Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency
In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the observance of good taste and decency.

Standard 7 Programme Classification
Broadcasters are responsible for ensuring that programmes are appropriately classified and adequately display programme classification information, and that time-bands are adhered to.

Standard 9 Children’s Interests
During children’s normally accepted viewing times (see Appendix 1), broadcasters are required, in the preparation and presentation of programmes, to consider the interests of child viewers.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[7] TV3 declined to uphold the complaint. Having viewed the item several times, it said it was not clear as to whether the actress was wearing underclothes. TV3 said that while the actress’s thighs were revealed, “the angle of the shot is such that there is no clear view of her genital area.” It concluded that the movie footage contained no nudity.

[8] In relation to the standards, TV3 said that in the context of the early evening news and its likely audience the “footage was consistent with the requirements” of Standard 1. TV3 stated that Standard 7 did not apply as the news was unclassified and the footage complained about was part of a news programme. As to Standard 9, TV3 considered that the footage would not have disturbed or alarmed child viewers as it was “intended to be funny rather than risqué”.

Referral to the Authority

[9] Dissatisfied with TV3’s response, Mr Whiteley said he had retained a copy of the footage, and there was a “complete and full view of the genitals and no underclothes at all.” Mr Whiteley reiterated that the nudity scene breached Standards 1 and 9 of the Television Code. He did not refer the Standard 7 aspect of his complaint in his referral to the Authority.

Authority's Determination

[10] The members of the Authority have viewed a tape of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[11] When the Authority determines a complaint that a broadcast contravenes Standard 1 of the Television Code, it is required to determine whether the material complained about breaches currently accepted standards of good taste and decency, taking into account the context of the broadcast. The Authority regards the following matters as relevant to its determination:

  • The footage was very brief.
  • The shot was indistinct given the angle and fleeting nature of the movie clip.
  • There was no “exposure” of the actress.
  • The movie clip was inexplicit and contained no nudity.
  • The scene shown was intended for humour, rather than “titillation”.

In this context, the Authority concludes that the item did not breach Standard 1.

[12] Standard 9 requires broadcasters to consider the interests of child viewers. The Authority accepts that the item was screened during children’s normally accepted viewing times. Taking into account the contextual matters referred to above, the Authority is of the view that the item would not be disturbing or alarming for children. Accordingly, the Authority concludes that TV3 considered the interests of children as required by Standard 9 and finds that the standard was not breached.


For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Tapu Misa
30 September 2004


The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

  1. Brett Whiteley’s Formal Complaints to TV3 Network Services Ltd – 8 and 15 June 2004
  2. TV3’s Response to Mr Whiteley – 5 July 2004
  3. Mr Whiteley’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – 14 July 2004
  4. TV3’s Response to the Authority – 29 July 2004